Friday, November 06, 2009

Two Poem Drafts and a Re-draft

There are a number of posts in the pipeline, but I keep not having time to finish them. In the meantime, here are some more poem drafts. The first is based (somewhat loosely) on a poem by Seneca himself.

Seneca Ponders Death

The dead within the tomb is laid,
the final rites are brought to close,
the eyes no more behold the day,
shut in endless night's repose.
Is there hint of more to life,
or is it but a passing tale?
What worth is it to leave the light
when on the threshold life will fail,
if yet unfailing strife we keep
and no surcease from life receive,
no warming poultice born of sleep,
and nothing left when flesh we leave?
When body to a corpse has turned
and spirit flees its living role,
is soul by life then also spurned
and, like a breath, dissolves the soul?
What morning sunlight, morrow's morn,
will shatter sky in reddening dawn,
what sunset scatter drops forlorn
on all that Ocean holds in bond?
It all will, like the sons of Time,
be snatched and eaten straight away.
Swiftly course the stars sublime,
swiftly moon will flee the day,
swiftly spring to winter tends,
as all things hurry to their place;
but swifter far than to these ends
do human hearts to nothing race.
When we are laid in fatal tomb,
perhaps no shade will be our doom.

Like smoke that curls from smoldering coal,
like cloud before the forceful wind,
our animal life will upward roll
and pass, and fade, and come to end.
With nothing left, no more than death,
the final goal, so swiftly found,
let craving flee with fleeing breath,
resign to fate with reason sound,
and, if you fear the heart's last beat,
then bury fear within the grave.
Time and night do not retreat.
Death will not in mercy save.
In our minds we cities build
of torment, shade, and ceaseless hells;
but these are rumors fear has filled,
pictures from a nightmare fell.
Who of our spirit's fate is sure?
Ask those who never lived nor were.

A New Animal

Look into the heavens,
see the stars --
there is truth, there justice, there beauty,
there a constellation of sublimities,
each more splendid in its kind
than a city of burning lamps,
each a sun in a sky so vast
it has no end.

Look to the heavens!
On this dusty, muddy earth,
a new animal bursts forth.
Others look to the ground,
heads bent down, shoulders bent,
others look to the horizon,
catching sight of predator or prey,
each eye catching what is fit for mind.
But one, one alone, stands up,
looks up,
sees a flawless expanse,
hunts not prey but stars.

Why are you bent over,
children of men?
Why are you bowed down?
Do you not know, not feel, your calling?
You are the animal who stands
to see the stars.

A Texas Hymn

The birds woke me at the sunrise hour
when the grass was dewy and all was pale
beneath the light of a high white star
that sang the message that all was well.
And I in the breeze (it trickled down
the blades of grass then quickly wound
around my legs to tickle my feet) --
I knew the light, and it was sweet.

The thirsty drink from a flowing spring
and come to life, made quick by source;
as I, when I hear the morning sing
in bird, in wind in winding course,
know, as sure as rolling sun does rise,
that a Spirit lives, God's very breath,
who lightens the sky and human eyes
and raises souls like mine from death.

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